Tools Are Sharp And Move Fast: My First Stitches

We (woodworkers/makers) have all been in a situation where we feel it is alright to hold down a work piece by hand or decide not to put the proper guard on a saw because “its just one cut” or “its the last cut of the day/night.”  My mistake was because of the latter reason.  I work in the evenings and it was 12:45 am when I was making a dado sled for my table saw.  The runners were a bit snug so I was using a Shavehook from Rockler  to thin them to fit without slop.  I was approaching the sweet spot in the right runner by scraping with the triangular blade in my left hand and holding the sled down and against the table saw fence with my right hand when the shavehook slipped off the runner.  A split second later I felt the dull pain on the nail of my index finger and the right side of my middle finger.  When I looked at my hand I saw a reasonably large laceration on my finger and blood starting to flow.  I opened up the cut to examine it’s severity and saw it was significantly deep.  I was not certain I could stop the bleeding with gauze and tape alone so I rinsed the wound with clean water, wrapped it in gauze, and told the wife I was going to the hospital to get stitches.

Graphic Content Warning

10 mins later I checked in at the ER and then saw a nurse in about 45 mins.  I was given a tub with saline solution to soak my fingers while I waited for the attending physician.  Before I soaked my finger this is what it looked like (graphic image of you do not like blood).  I am not giving you the bird.

Cut after soaking.
Cut after soaking.

After about an hour of soaking, the physician came in to examine the damage.  I had two options: I could have a wound sealer applied but my finger would have to be totally immobilized to prevent reopening or I could have stitches and have a bit more flexibility.  I chose the latter.  The doctor came back, numbed the finger, and began suturing.  Here is the result.  You can see the cut in the nail bed of my index finger.  This is what was the most uncomfortable.

Cut after suturing.
Cut after suturing.

After the sutures were sewn, I had a bandage applied, got a tetanus shot (which made my shoulder sore for days), and was on my way.  Here is my finger 24 hours later.

Splinted.
Sewn and Splinted.

Day 3 after a little clean up.  Not looking bad at all.  No pain other than shoulder soreness from the tetanus shot still.

Day 3
Day 3

Day 4 and it is starting to seal up nicely.

Day 4
Day 4

Day 5 I got rid of the splint and tape.  I had full range of motion in my finger and no pain in my shoulder.

Day 5
Day 5

Day 6 and 7 were pretty much the same.  The wound sealed up and the sutures became a bit more loose as the swelling decreased.  Also, with more mobility of my finger, the knots in the sutures started to unwind a bit.  I saw my primary care physician and she told me to leave the stitches in for 10 days since I use my hands a lot.  I asked about the loose knot and she said not to worry about it coming untied.

Day 7
Day 7

Day 8

That night, the tie close to my finger tip came out as I pulled my hand out of my pocket.  I decided that since it was near completely healed and I had only 2 days left I should just remove the stitches myself.  The process was simple.  Clean the site, cut the stitch close to the skin on one side and pull it through from the other side.  Rinse and repeat.

The setup.
The setup.
Stitches out!
Stitches out!
Close up.
Close up.  Triple Antibiotic ointment applied for the night.

This little set back delayed my work by a week or so.  Something that could have been prevented if I just slowed down and kept my hands clear of the path of moving sharp tools.  Now for future reference, do not use your hands as hold fasts and take all necessary precautions when working with sharp tool, whether they are powered by hand or electricity.

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